Toyota first released a hybrid car in 1997 which is the Toyota Prius and today it has became, in a way, Toyota’s flagship hybrid model. Over the years, Toyota (and Lexus) has used their hybrid technology on other models as well. Another Toyota hybrid model which is available locally is the Camry Hybrid.
As for Lexus, the company has used the same hybrid technology on their cars and they have two dedicated hybrid models which are the Lexus CT 200h and the HS 250h. The difference between Toyota’s and Lexus’ hybrid models is that Lexus focuses more on combining power with a “green engine” and the new Lexus GS 450h is another example.
Let’s start of with the overall shape and looks of the car. The first thing you would notice is the new front grille. This new styling design will be used on future Lexus models. The car, from the front, gives a more menacing look compared to the previous model’s rounded snout. The front grille extends downwards to the front bumper and with a split in the middle. Air vents are situated next to the fog lights which come as a standard option.
At the rear, the boxy shape gives the car a more traditional look. Lexus has mentioned that the boxy rear wasn’t just an aesthetic design consideration but it was designed that way for an extra 25 percent in cargo space (in comparison with the previous model). The rear lights cluster looks a little “BMW-ish.” Since this is a hybrid model, a hybrid tag is situated at the rear area of the side skirts.
The car gets a newly revised hybrid V6 engine which runs on the Atkinson Cycle. The car generates around 338bhp which is 32bhp more than the normal V6 engine. The main new factor is the improved fuel economy which is said to give a 30-35 percent improvement over the previous model. This is a great improvement but however, the 0-100km/h timing is at 5.6 seconds; a 0.4 seconds increase from the previous hybrid model.
The car still uses a nickel-metal hydride battery and the car gets a new hybrid controller (similar to the one in the LS 600hL) which is for improved cooling and hence it will provide better efficiency. Maximum voltage is limited to 500 if the car is set in Eco mode and 650 volts in Sport mode.
There is also a Sport-Plus mode which stiffens the suspension and offers a more aggressive throttle response and tighter steering feel, compared to the Sport mode. Lexus has also included a nifty feature when the driver selects a certain mode.
If you select the Eco mode, the instrument gauge panel will display an Eco power meter and the panel will have an illuminated blue light. If you drive more economically, the blue light glows brighter. In Sport mode, the Eco meter changes to a normal tachometer and the blue illuminated light changes to red. The GS 450h also has a button activated EV mode (just like Toyota’s other hybrid models) and a button for snow condition driving.
The car weighs at 1900kg, not much of a difference with the older GS hybrid. But with the electric motor’s almost instant torque delivery, the car doesn’t feel sluggish and it gives a rather aggressive off the line leap.
The 2012 Lexus GS 450h is a great combination of performance and fuel economy. Even though it may not be faster than the standard GS (due to its additional weight), but we must remember that this is a hybrid model and the improved fuel economy makes up for it. Anyway, a 3.5 litre V6 hybrid sports sedan which runs the century sprint at 5.6 seconds and weighs around 1900kg; that is, in my opinion, rather impressive.
Photo credit: Auto Blog
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